As Chief Intellectual Property Counsel at Levi Strauss & Co., it’s my job to protect our brands from counterfeiters.
This is definitely an instance where imitation is not the highest form of flattery. The pair of jeans pictured above, for example, is not one of ours, no matter what the counterfeiter would have you believe.
The World Customs Organization estimates that clothing and footwear companies lose $9 billion per year to counterfeiting. The manufacture, distribution, and marketing of counterfeit products have become a lucrative and growing business worldwide, often linked to the financing of criminal activities, including terrorism.
I’m proud to say that Levi Strauss & Co. takes a leadership role in combating counterfeiting worldwide.
The red tab and the familiar arcuate or batwing stitching that grace just about every pair of Levi’s® jeans have come to stand for more than just well-made product. And we’re often faced with counterfeiters who want to make money by taking advantage of the goodwill, reputation and quality associated with our brand.
We work hard to combat these operations – through legal action and collaboration with local enforcement officials and judiciary. We also have a network of Brand Protection Coordinators, who seek out counterfeit production sources and distribution channels, working to stop the products before they’re put on the market.
But protecting our trademarks is not just about protecting our business interests; it’s about protecting the health and safety of the people who make clothing around the world.
Counterfeit operations are often linked to sub-standard working conditions and child and forced labor. Illegal counterfeit operations have also been known to lack proper health and safety requirements for workers that use techniques such as abrasive blasting during the finishing process. . In doing so, these unauthorized operations put the health and safety of workers in jeopardy.
As a company committed to ethical manufacturing, we believe this is unacceptable.
We have industry-leading worker rights and safety requirements that apply to suppliers around the world.
That’s why we prohibit any unauthorized subcontracting of our products and why we publicly provide our complete list of suppliers around the world. If there is a question about whether someone is an authorized LS&Co. supplier, it can always be checked against our public information.
We will continue to work hard to track down and stop counterfeiters, not only because it harms our business and infringes on our trademarks, but because shutting down illegal operations that could jeopardize the lives of people who make counterfeit product is just as important.